Tough Travelling

“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!

Northern Barbarians dwell in the snowy part behind the northern MOUNTAIN range. They are very barbarous and tend to kill strangers on sight. This is because the males spend their time in longhouses honing their fighting skills. It is not certain what their females do.

BeowulfBeowulf – Beowulf by Unknown Author

If you like epic fantasy at all, do yourself a favor and read Beowulf. The titular Beowulf is a classic “Northern Barbarian,” an Anglo-Saxon warrior known for his skill in battle. You’ll see many tropes that remain part of contemporary fantasy novels (some have even been featured in Tough Travelling before) today, and you’ll get that slice of insight into Tolkien’s creation of LoTR since it had a profound influence on his writing. I recommend the Seamus Heaney translation – it really is the best.




First TestScanrans – Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce

Located North of Tortall, Scanra is home to a Viking-like people whose . The country is ruled by King Maggur, who sits on the Bloody Throne. He is lovingly referred to as “King Maggot” by…basically everyone who’s not a Scanran. These guys fit the more traditional “evil barbarian” mold and are often cast as enemy characters in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe.




The SkystoneThe Barbarian Hordes – The Skystone by Jack Whyte

The action of The Skystone – the inciting incident, if you will – begins when the barbarians breach Hadrian’s Wall, constructed to separate Roman territory from…basically everyone else. Our narrator is Publius Varrus, a Roman Britain who’s tasked with guarding the Wall against the imminent invasion, which is sure to be swift and brutal. Those barbarians know what they’re on about.